Dr. Josef's Little Beauty
In the middle of summer, omnipresent heat radiates as a group of elderly people are remembering their youth. The story focuses on two sisters, Leokadia and Czechna, who live together in a retirement home not far from Warsaw. These are not ordinary stories they are sharing, because both of them spent time as children in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. At the center is Czechna, who at the age of 12 was saved from extermination by the notorious doctor Josef Mengele, the real-life Nazi officer and physician who was known as the “angel of death” for the experiments he conducted on prisoners, including twins and siblings.
This is a story both provocative and disturbing about the fear that lingers in victims. Was the sisters’ relationship with the executioner a desperate attempt to save their lives, or perhaps they harbor a hideous pride and sense of superiority over other prisoners? Rudzka’s extraordinary writing turns unsettling questions about memory and survival into art.
"This a book that repels you, it’s as stifling as a hot, steamy summer—and it’s set in one—when you wait hopelessly for rain. But there’s no putting it back on the shelf or hiding it under a pile of newspapers. It has great force."
—Paweł Smoleński, Wyborcza
"Zyta Rudzka confronts us with a truth that we don’t want to hear too often, and which is only trite on the surface—being immortal doesn’t exist. Even if digital immortality is already peeping around the corner."
—Artur Madaliński in Nowe Książki